Ngāpuhi leaders divided over welcoming PM onto Te Tii Marae

By Dean Nathan

Iwi leaders are divided over whether Prime Minister John Key should be welcomed onto Te Tii Marae for Waitangi Day celebrations.  Leaders met today in Waitangi to discuss the issue. 

Kingi Taurua called this meeting today for Ngāpuhi to debate this issue. 

Rudy Taylor of Te Kotahitanga o Ngā Hapū o Ngāpuhi says, "The Prime Minister should come on the marae to commemorate 176 years between two culture and we should maintain that at Waitangi.  So even though there are issues that relate to the TPPA the commemorations must come first."

Dover Samuels (Ngāti Kuri) says, "We must welcome our guests in peace and in the traditions of this marae and its people."

Nearly two decades passed since the council of Ngāpuhi elders put their perspective to the Governor General on this matter but they still await a reply from the Crown.

Nuki Aldridge from Te Taumata Kaumātua o Ngāpuhi says, "If we are committed to upholding Te Tiriti o Waitangi then we are one people.  Perhaps the government or the Crown should consider sitting alongside Ngāpuhi to welcome the nation."

The government signing of the Tran-Pacific Partnership this Thursday is at the crux of the call by Kingi Taurua not to welcome prime minister onto this marae on Friday.  Irrespective of the outcome of the meeting it seems that he won't be changing his mind on this matter.

Taurua says, "I will not support it irrespective of the decision on this marae.  If the decision is to welcome the PM that's good but I will continue to oppose it simply because I believe what government are about to do is wrong and it will trample over the sovereignty as expressed in Te Tiriti O Waitangi and the 1835 Declaration of Independence."

Whether a resolution will be made remains to be seen.